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Solar Startup Asks for Tariff Exemption, Draws Trump Rebuke

April 25, 2018
1366 Technologies has picked its own trade fight with President Donald Trump.

A U.S. solar startup has picked its own trade fight with President Donald Trump.

1366 Technologies Inc., which spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has drawn a rebuke from the U.S. Energy Department for asking that its silicon wafer factory under construction in Asia be exempt from American tariffs. The Energy Department says the overseas facility may violate an agreement to manufacture in the U.S. as part of a $150-million federal loan guarantee for a factory the startup was planning in Upstate New York.

“Constructing and operating the Southeast Asia facility is likely contrary to 1366’s U.S. manufacturing commitments,” John Lucas, acting general counsel at the Energy Department wrote in a letter to the U.S. trade representative released Monday. “DOE takes this matter very seriously and is currently looking into 1366’s compliance with its DOE funding agreements.”

Not so fast, said Laureen Sanderson, a spokeswoman for 1366. The company, she said, withdrew its request for a loan guarantee in January.

1366 is partly owned by Hanwha Group in South Korea.

By Christopher Martin

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